Greetings from Washington, D.C.

On this Christmas Eve, our streets are quiet, except for the sound of so many speeding Amazon Prime delivery vans. If you believe what the economists are saying, then the 2019 holiday season will be a merry one. But for many who look deep within, it is a season steeped in palpable loss.

During 2019, on a summer camp alumni social media site that I co-moderate, I wrote more than 20 obituaries honoring departed group members and family. Actually, I wrote my first obituary of the year in mid-January when my father, Arnie Smolen, passed away.

2019 Cannot End Soon Enough

As we gather this holiday season with family and friends, it is inevitable that some will notice the absences in the room, and, hearts will grow heavy. But I also think that such loss is an opportunity to recognize the gifts that our departed friends and family gave us.

Present in My Head

In the weeks and months that followed Arnie Smolen’s passing, I discovered situations where he was present in my head, offering up a funny take on some absurd situation that I was dropped into, or telling me how to fix something that seemed irretrievably broken.

Arnie escaped his body, but he lives in my thoughts. And that is the hope that I have for so many who, like me, lost loved ones in 2019. Strive to turn your deep sadness into something amazing.

I remember Arnie Smolen for his wickedly funny sense of humor, his deep insight, and the honesty of his life and purpose. He encouraged me to take risks in the furtherance of my career, especially to leave work situations that grew meaningless. It pleases me to say that, while he was alive, he got to sample some episodes of The Tightrope Podcast. According to my mom, what he heard pleased him.

To all who have lost family and friends this year, I offer you my deepest sympathies and this insight: in time, you will discover that your pain and sadness will be replaced by happy memories of your loved ones.

May you enjoy a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Chag Hanukkah Sameach, and a truly meaningful and satisfying 2020.

Our best days lie ahead.

Please catch an inspirational episode of The Tightrope Podcast this Friday, December 27, 2019 as we interview Adelle Settle, founder of school-lunch-debt settling nonprofit Settle the Debt.

Find The Tightrope with Dan Smolen Podcast. on Apple PodcastStitcher, on our website, or wherever you get your podcasts. Listen HERE.

DAN SMOLEN is founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC. He is also the executive producer and host of The Tightrope Meaningful Work Podcast.  Please comment here to let us know how we are doing, and, to offer suggestions for future guests and topics.

Photo credits: Man by Christmas Tree, iStock Photo; Yahrtzeit Candle, iStock Photo.